“My mother took me to playgrounds and put me on mood swings!”
– Jay London
Last year I gave myself a headache crunching on Grape-Nuts (that is one loud cereal!) while my teenage son debated whether to go to the San Diego County Fair or hang out with me. When I looked baffled, he explained, “Mom, you have more ups and downs than the “Raging Thunder – SkyScreamer – Twister – Sling Shot – Crazy Mouse – Dark Night rollercoaster all rolled into one!” He meant “Dark Knight,” but since I was having one of my dimmer evenings, I changed the spelling.
Mood swings are the hallmark of menopause. Or are they? Approximately 1 in 4 women between the ages of 40 and 59 take antidepressants. Can this many of us be clinically depressed? Or are we victims zooming down the “Highway of Hormonal Hell?” Hey, now that’s a nifty name for a ride – (Note to Self: Call “Menopausey Land” and discuss sharing royalties!)
When your nickname becomes Sybil or Dr. Jekyll, you might rethink the idea that irritability, anxiety, depression, rage, and brain fog are the “prizes” that automatically come in this particular cereal box we know as “Life.” I’m living proof that with the right doctor, a woman can be stabilized faster than the economy; and certainly all those around her will be better off. It was my same thrill-ride lover son who first printed on a tee-shirt, “When mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy!” His grammar needed work, but he was on to something.
Now realize things might need reprioritizing, which brings up self-care. Mind you, my kids roll their eyes on airplanes when flight attendants give that “Parents, put your own oxygen mask on first” speech. That’s because I use that analogy to justify my outlandishly selfish behavior – – like actually taking a shower before making them homemade waffles. Imagine that! Or meditating instead of taking someone to Verizon for the latest iPhone. Or (gasp!) indulging in a girl’s night out at “Wine, Women, & Hormones,” where the underlying issues that have been wreaking havoc in my body and mind in the first place are finally addressed. This new mind shift takes some juggling, but we’re definitely worth it, ladies!
Fast-forward to yesterday while I munched on Grape-Nuts, (switched to flakes – – much quieter!) as my son actually invited me to this year’s opening day at the fair. I promised he wouldn’t be subjected to the gemology exhibit, and instead I’d willingly go to the Fun Zone. “Mom,” he said, hugging me, (no easy feat for a 17 year old!) “Nowadays … you ARE the Fun Zone!” Wow, just wow. Note: I still experienced mood swings (most notably fear, vomiting, and anger) after being dragged on Pharaoh’s Fury and G-Force, but that had nothing to do with my progesterone levels!